Life through my myopic eyes.

Why are Glitchy Games the New Norm?


You cannot refer to yourself as a “gamer” if you don’t know about the multitude of glitches in Skyrim.  Just check out the video below (courtesy of Household Gamer on YouTube) for an example of just a very small amount of glitches that are in this game.

Skyrim has an enormous amount of glitches in its verse. A lot of gamers react quite huffily when this is pointed out. “Well, it’s a huge game man, what do you expect?” I answer, “No glitches.”

In an age where the average expenditure for a AAA title video game is in the region of 50 to 60 pounds sterling (or the dollar/monetary unit of where you live) or more, I expect no glitches…at all.

Back in the day, glitches were unheard of. PS1/PS2 and the old Xbox were practically glitch free. The games were a lot cheaper and yes the graphics not nearly so spectacular. I will also mention that the technology wasn’t as advanced.

Why then, in this advanced technology, enhanced graphics and expensive game arena are most games filled with glitches. More importantly, why are gamers accepting this as the norm? Have we gotten that complacent? That easily pleased? Does a fast paced action packed game with a sandbox world mean that glitches are now acceptable?

I don’t get it.

Incredible floating dead soldier.

At the end of every video game ever made there is an incredibly long list of credits. If you can manage to sit through this infinite scroll of participants who contributed to the game you will see Quality Assurance and Quality Checks et al. I don’t think so. If you Quality Assurance guys were really doing your job, the glitches would be gone. You are all fired.

The problem seems to be that the games industry is placing a huge emphasis on deadlines. Since the industry discovered that they are scraping in loads more coin than the movie industry, they’ve moved their goalposts. It appears that the new target of all main stream games companies is the, “Let’s get hands on those controllers, guys and gals. Players equal profits.

This new adherence to unrealistic deadlines is allowing these technological problems to steadily increase in the gaming world. And it’s not just glitches that are affecting these AAA games.

Remember the rage and fury of Mass Effect fans when the debacle of Mass Effect 3 ending appeared? Because their original ending of the game had been leaked and their deadline was fast approaching (in about 2 weeks time if I remember correctly) they wrote an unsatisfactory ending –not by the original writing team, I hasten to add– and wound up deviating wildly from their first ending.

The result was a mish-mash of an ending that departed from the entire premise of the Mass Effect series. Which was of course that, “Your decisions mould the ending of the game.” All this came about because apparently their new partner (EA games) demanded that they meet the now ridiculous deadline.

I honestly think that the new target of money making versus making great re-playable games and meeting unrealistic deadlines is ultimately going to cost the games industry money.

Hardcore gamers, who are the same guys who started playing when they were in short pants, have gotten older and (surprise!) are still hardcore gamers. The average playing age is creeping up. And I’ve got news for you game company guys, the older you get the less likely you are to be easily satisfied by shoddy products.

Oh no. This doesn’t throw me out of the game at all! Half Life 2 glitch.

There is nothing more annoying, or as likely to throw you out of the moment, than an irritating glitch in a game. Assassin’s Creed has had plenty of, “There’s a guards head and shoulders sticking up through the roof,” moments. These moments (which appear in a disturbing amount of games) are amusing at first. Then just irritating.

Sure I get excited about a new game coming out. I’m beside myself at the moment waiting for the new Hitman.

But as excited as I am about the new Hitman: Absolution, there are a few other games I also can’t wait to get my hands on. And this is where the money thing comes in. I’ve already set aside a few games to trade in for Hitman and Black Ops 2 (don’t judge!) if any more come out like…BioShock Infinite. I’m screwed. Too much expenditure for my tiny budget.

This is my point, I suppose, I don’t mind paying my hard earned pennies for a great, highly anticipated game. But I do begrudge paying for a glitch-filled, highly anticipated game. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling either.

So games companies take note. I think you’re going to find a lot of “hard-core” gamers aren’t going to be happy with being sold sub-standard goods. We might just start asking for our money back.

Glitch (video game)

Glitch (video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Categorised in: Entertainment, Gaming

11 Responses »

  1. Can’t argue with you there. Bethesda games are notoriously glitchy. Most glitches could probably be solved by extending the development time to include ample QA testing. I can understand how publishers and other investors might be in a hurry to get their money back, but they really should budget the time frame before hand so they’re ready, and take into account possible delays and changes.

    Another issue, I think, is cross-platform development. My PC version of Mass Effect has a minor glitch that occurs all the time. It’s an obvious one on the Eden Prime tutorial mission that was probably missed only because the port to PC was undoubtedly hurried a bit. I doubt it exists in the console version, but I don’t know that for sure.

    Some glitches are probably hard to recreate. I’ve found a few other glitches in Mass Effect that I experienced once and have never seen again, and I’ve played that game over and over a lot. I don’t know that QA can be expected to catch all of those, but there may be ways.

    Finally, as for the clipping, sometimes it’s a deliberate attempt to increase performance by decreasing collision detection. Thus sometimes portions of models will sink into other models in the game. Normally the performance payoff is worth the slight unrealistic clipping, but the more egregious examples, like body parts emerging through walls and such, should always be stamped out.

    Of course, that brings us to crappy AI, which is a whole other story.

  2. Amen to this. Bethesda must have the worst playtesters going if some of those glitches managed to get through the net. The whole Skyrim on PS3 debacle is perhaps the worst example of videogame testing there has ever been. The game was simply broken yet they continued to sell it. It’s like selling a TV you can’t change the channel on.

    I think, like you say, a lot of it comes down to deadlines. With games companies under greater pressure to create bigger and bigger games with more detail, it’s obviously going to take more time to do so. Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, Red Dead Redemption and Assassins Creed are all notable offenders and these are all open world sandbox games which require multiple algorithms in order to create a realistic environment. As such, the bigger they get, the more likely stuff is likely to get missed, especially with looming deadlines and decreased numbers of staff due to cutbacks. You don’t see nearly as many glitches in smaller, more linear games because the testing team can methodically work through the levels and iron out the creases, whereas in the more open world games there is a near infinite amount of algorithmic possibilities that could play out, some of which will cause glitches and be missed.

  3. You really can blame this on Microsoft, at least as the source. They set the bar for releasing software before it is properly tested and getting people to pay for the privilege. The world is Microsoft’s beta testing site. After MS got away with it, more and more other software companies have followed suit. It’s so much cheaper if you eliminate documentation and beta testing. I worked in the development world for a long time and although I agree that there is always a possibility that even properly tested software can have a hidden glitch or two, when a good tester goes at a product, you can be very close to sure that nothing significant is going to pop out. It’s not that you can’t find all the bugs. It’s that the companies no longer try hard enough. It’s not a technical issue: it is, as always, a bottom line issue.

    P.S.: Not only was I a documentor, I was a beta tester … a very good one. This is my world.

    • I can believe it. It seems to be the norm now for all (sandbox at least) games to be put out as quickly as possible with as much fanfare as possible but with as little quality assurance as possible. *and how many times can you use the word possible in a sentence* Sure bugs have been in games for years, just search game glitches on the internet or YouTube and a plethora show up. It’s just that the amount of glitches has increased ten-fold. Not good at all. I would have killed to be a beta tester! :-)

  4. Im counting down the hours until Hitman is released. Picking up Black Ops next week too. What console do you play on? Man I would love to kill some zombies with you dude! I only game on the Xbox now, my PS3 has become a very expensive blu ray player. :)

  5. Glitches can be annoying, especially if they freeze the game or make you replay something. And as for the price of games I generally am very patient and will wait till the games I want drop below the 20 euro mark (with a few exceptions for example GTA), so I don’t spend too much money on them. Then the glitches aren’t as annoying ;)

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